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Thursday, June 22, 2000

I should not let little things get to me, but I was sitting in the family room watching the game this evening, and all I could hear was the sound of the WWF Smackdown (or whatever) coming through the wall. I'm pretty sure the parents were gone and the two boys were there alone. I don't know if they were even watching the TV, because I could hear them bouncing off the walls, punctuated by the occasional barking of one of their three dogs.

Phil Spector's "wall of sound" had nothing on my neighbors. The constant droning of guitars makes it sound like an airport at times. This afternoon they were listening to something that was heavy on the drums. I swear, it was as if I were in a 1940s jungle epic starring Buster Crabbe or Dorothy Lamour. The natives are restless tonight.

The thing is, it wasn't really that loud. It was much worse Monday during the day when they had the speakers turned toward the wall (or at least that's how it seemed). This tonight was something I should have been able to ignore, but I just couldn't.

I could have been an old grump and complained, but instead I just turned up the volume of the baseball game. The pastoral lilt of baseball on TV doesn't compete well with wrestling, though, at least when it comes to annoying, irritating, obnoxious noise.

Yes, I know it's my problem. But I'm easily distracted by other people's noise. I've tried apartment living a couple of times, but I wasn't able to last. Sometimes the sounds came from above, sometimes from below. This time, it's coming from the one and only possible source, the one tiny wall of my vast abode that I share with a neighbor.

My third year in college was a nightmare because of this. I had two roommates in a three-bedroom dorm unit, in the same dorm where the (now defunct) football team lived. They were all around us, and noise is what they were all about.

My roommates would often go home on weekends to sleep in their childhood bedrooms, but I lived further away and usually stayed on campus alone. Me and the football team. I was overmatched, but I would slam doors and pound on walls out of sheer frustration, even though I knew it wasn't getting me anywhere.

Once, while I cowered in a bedroom trying to get the resident advisor on the phone, a half-dozen of the steroidal brutes broke down my front door, for no other reason than that they were drunk and had nothing better to do. They broke through about the same time the RA showed up.

Sure, they got "reprimanded" and I got my door fixed. But since then I've always been a little less anxious to provoke a confrontation and defend my right to live in peace. That's why I prize my privacy and serenity enough to have moved out of places just to preserve it. Not to mention my thinly-disguised sanity.

Oh, and the university dropped football the following year. No connection, though.

I'm somewhat on the edge tonight, but the kids' parents got home just about the time the game ended, and I was ready to move on to other things anyway. The computer is far enough away that noise from the common wall doesn't usually bother me when I'm working.

It's a shame, though, to have to go to work in order to keep from getting an ulcer over something that should be a matter of common decency. I shouldn't have to ask people to behave with respect toward their fellow humans, or demand that parents or the landlord protect me from the natural exuberance of unattended children.

This could be a long, long summer.

The Boss was feeling down this afternoon, and it was after he gave me what I thought was good news. We were low bidder on a job that had its bid opening today. We have new work, which means job security.

The problem is that his bid was about twenty percent lower than the only other bidder. "I left a lot on the table," he told me. Well, yes you did, but what am I supposed to say? I didn't do the estimating.

He told me who the other bidder was, and I made light of their estimating ability. I have no clue whether I was making sense or not, but I had to say something. "If somebody made a mistake, it was probably them. Either that or they don't want the job," I said. He told me he'd checked his figures and had even added extra profit, so unless he's wrong we have a job at a price we want.

I'm afraid he thinks he's the one who made a mistake, overlooking some crucial aspect of the job that will haunt us when construction gets started. That's for him to worry about, for now. I just know that as long as we keep getting new work, he still needs me to do my job. I can buy groceries for one more week.

At least my noisy neighbors always let me sleep. I don't think I've ever heard any sounds coming from their side after midnight. And I'm usually up much later than that.

Just trying to keep positive about it.

Of course, I don't stay up late with the TV on any more either. Before I moved here, I could run the stereo and/or television full blast at any hour of the day or night, without being concerned that I was annoying anyone. And did. Often.

Now I tiptoe around, trying not to rock the boat, putting on the headphones unless there's noise already coming through the wall.

Staying positive didn't last long this time, did it?

This is the majestic view outside my front door.

looking out my front door

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I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don't expect to sleep all night
Some people say a lie is just a lie
But I say the cross is in the ballpark
Why deny the obvious child?